French Presidential Election Moves To Final Round
On Sunday, the French nation went to the polls to select a new president. Since none of the 11 candidates secured more than half of the vote, nine have been eliminated and a decisive vote will be held on Sunday 7th May. That head-to-head contest will be between the far right leader (until last night) of the Front National, Marine Le Pen and newcomer Emmanuel Macron of En Marche. The initial vote was won by Macron with 24% of the vote, beating Ms Le Pen into second place with 21.3% of the vote. Francois Fillon (Republican Party), the long-time front runner whose campaign was beset with allegations about illicit payments from public coffers to his family for fictive work, garnered 20% of the vote. The far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon polled 19.6% and heir-apparent of outgoing President Francois Hollande, Benoit Hamon (Socialist Party) garnered just 6.4% of the vote, underlining the unpopularity of his boss.
Reaction to the outcome of the vote has been largely positive since it is widely expected that Macron will go on to win the election on the 7th. Marine Le Pen is seen as a threat to the EU and had promised a Brexit style referendum on France’s continued participation in the EU. Other candidates were also, to a greater or lesser extent, Eurosceptic, but Macron is seen as being a supporter of the EU and France’s central role in the bloc. Markets reacted positively to the vote and the Euro gained ground against the Dollar and the Yen.
Le Pen has stepped aside from the leadership of the National Front, claiming that she wants to be above partisan politics – a ridiculous notion since it was the right wing partisan apporoach that she adopted that got her into the presidential run-off in the first place.
Although a minister in Hollande’s government, Emmanuel Macron has never held elected office and his En Marche movement is just one year old, so he remains somewhat of an unknown entity.